The sprinkler timer has revolutionized home gardening and landscaping. In fact, it pretty much takes care of daily lawn and garden maintenance for you. If only there were robots to go out and pick the weeds...soon enough. In the meantime there is not much to worry about with a sprinkler timer.
They have several benefits on top of easing the busy work-a-lot mind that always seems to forget to water the garden or, for that matter, turn off the sprinkler once it's on. For one, you know that your landscaping will get the correct amount of water at the correct time of day, every day. Then there is the extra free time and the kids know exactly when to run outside in the summer.
Sprinkler timers are electronic devices. The simplest timers involve a simple dial that acts as an interface between you and the actual device. This dial allows you to set watering times for one or more stations. These timers are effective and fairly inexpensive but will have to be monitored and adjusted to maintain maximum efficiency. Common sprinkler timer makers are Rain Bird, Toro, Orbit, and Irritrol.
Newer, more complex electronic timers have an array of features. These include weekly, monthly, and yearly watering schedules, seasonal adjustments, flexible run times, on-screen programming, and more. Some timers even come with computer software so that you can control your sprinklers without even stepping into the yard. This software can even provide advice based on your climate, soil type, plant type, etc. You may even be able to run a drip irrigation system in addition to the sprinklers from the same spot.
Prices for sprinkler timers vary by complexity, anywhere from $30 or so for a more simple model to roughly $100 for a computer programmable model.
Moisture sensors are another common feature to new sprinkler controls. These are especially useful where water conservation is a necessity by preventing the sprinklers from kicking on if the ground is already wet after a rain shower. Sunlight sensors also exist that calculate the amount of water which will evaporate and adjust the amount of watering accordingly.
For those of you without full-on sprinkler systems, have no fear. There are also hose timers that hook up to an outdoor spigot and act as an automatic on/off switch for your sprinkler. Simply set the timer and forget about it. There are also dual hose timers that allow watering of two different areas at different times. Hose timers come in fairly inexpensively at $15 to $30 on average.
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